New Posts

Feb 8, 2016

Top 400 Taxpayers See Tax Rates Rise, But There’s More to the Story

As Americans were gathering party supplies to greet the New Year, the Internal Revenue Service released their annual report of cumulative tax data reported on the 400 tax r...

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Feb 4, 2016

Chlorine Bleach Plants Needlessly Endanger 63 Million Americans

Chlorine bleach plants across the U.S. put millions of Americans in danger of a chlorine gas release, a substance so toxic it has been used as a chemical weapon. Greenpeace’s new repo...

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Jan 25, 2016

U.S. Industrial Facilities Reported Fewer Toxic Releases in 2014

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data for 2014 is now available. The good news: total toxic releases by reporting facilities decreased by nearly six percent from 2013 levels. Howe...

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Jan 22, 2016

Methane Causes Climate Change. Here's How the President Plans to Cut Emissions by 40-45 Percent.

  UPDATE (Jan. 22, 2016): Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its proposed rule to reduce methane emissions...

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Appropriations Policy Riders: They’re Ba-ack!

Earlier this year, when Congress was finishing the long-overdue budget for fiscal year 2011, the House tried to use the must-pass spending bill to force adoption of dozens of "policy riders." These provisions would have done everything from preventing the regulation of greenhouse gases to prohibiting certain loans to mohair farmers. Fortunately, almost all of them were stripped out of the final bill. However, now, as Congress moves toward finishing the FY 2012 budget, Republicans in the House and Senate are once again attempting to bend the budget process to enact non-budget policies that can't pass on their own merits. Riders have no place in congressional spending bills.

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IRS Enforcement Likely to Take Hit in 2012 Approps

The tax mans taken all my dough / and left me in my stately home / lazing on a sunny afternoon.

Reporting last week in a piece titled, "Bipartisanship lives! And it will likely cost taxpayers money," Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post notes that although Democrats and Republicans are battling over the fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget, "there's one big thing that both parties already agree on: cutting funding for the [Internal Revenue Service (IRS)]." This shortsighted move is likely to end up costing the government money (at a time when every penny is needed) because roughly half of the cuts are coming out of the agency's enforcement budget.

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Obama's New Deficit Reduction Plan Unapologetically Balanced

Earlier today, President Obama released a new plan for reducing the federal deficit, or the shortfall between revenues and spending. The plan is technically a set of recommendations for the Super Committee, which Congress created last month to find $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. Obama’s plan isn’t ideal, but it is easily one of the best set of deficit reduction recommendations to come out of Washington in a while.

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Senate Committee Proposes Transparency Cuts

There’s a grand tradition in DC: the Friday afternoon news dump. Press secretaries from across the District save up any bad news, and then release it on Friday after the major news deadlines have passed. That way, articles won’t show up until the weekend, when most people aren't paying attention. In yet another example of this, the Senate Appropriations Committee, responsible for the government’s yearly funding bills, released four bills this afternoon, all of which had passed out of committee yesterday. And, sure enough, there, buried in one of the bills, is the Senate effectively slashing funding for transparency projects.

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Debt Ceiling Deal Erodes Public Protections, Government Services

The debt ceiling deal signed into law Aug. 2 will remake the federal budget process in the years to come. The procedures put in place by the new law are complex, and the final budgetary outcome will depend on a variety of factors. With $841 billion in immediate budget cuts, and with up to $2.5 trillion in total deficit reduction over the next 10 years, the law, known as the Budget Control Act (BCA), will have a profound effect on everything from public and environmental protections to education to federal information transparency.

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First Glance at the Super Committee

As per the debt ceiling deal, the Budget Control Act of 2011, a 12-member special joint committee is to be created to produce legislation that will cut the deficit by $1.5 trilliion. The majority and minority leadership of both houses are tasked with selecting three members each to sit on this so-called Super Committte. Sen. McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Reid (D-NV), and Speaker Boehner (R-OH) made their appointments earlier this week, and by making her appointments today, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rounds out the Super Committee roster.

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The Backup Budget

A bizarre ritual is going on in Congress in advance of fiscal year (FY) 2012. Appropriators are doing their job, writing and passing bills setting the year’s discretionary spending levels, but their efforts might be wasted. With the budget becoming tightly entwined with the looming debt ceiling deadline, all of the recent appropriations activity is probably for naught.

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New FDA Report Illustrates How Spending Cuts Threaten Food Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a report yesterday recognizing the challenges in regulating imported products. The report acknowledges that the agency does not have "the resources to adequately keep pace with the pressures of globalization."

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House Subcommittee Restores Small Portion of E-Gov Funding, but More Resources Still Needed

The House Financial Services and General Government appropriations subcommittee today approved its fiscal year 2012 spending bill. The legislation would slightly restore funding for critical government transparency projects, but the full ramifications of the subcommittee's actions are unclear.

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Issa, Cummings, Devaney Agree: We Need E-Gov Funding

In a hearing on federal spending transparency which just concluded, House Oversight Committee ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) entered our letter signed by more than 30 transparency groups in support of restoring the Electronic Government Fund into the hearing record. The E-Gov Fund supports important government websites such as, the IT Dashboard,, and

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Resources & Research

Living in the Shadow of Danger: Poverty, Race, and Unequal Chemical Facility Hazards

People of color and people living in poverty, especially poor children of color, are significantly more likely...

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A Tale of Two Retirements: One for CEOs and One for the Rest of Us

The 100 largest CEO retirement funds are worth a combined $4.9 billion, equal to the entire retirement account savings of 41 percent of American fam...

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